The thundering paused every few minutes; the air rose heavy in
anticipation of the next assault upon the soil. The rhythm was familiar to
the groups of Unarra tending to the various tasks of the day. Some even used
the noise to jolt them back awake after falling asleep from a night spent
playing too many games of hyra. Atlak hated how the dust was stirred into
the air, how his feet vibrated afterward and caused him to pause in his work
to recover. Tynel Mellor and Tynel Atlak were lashing groups of vines
together for the trainers' use. Mellor marveled at his spawn's ability to
work single-mindedly, and had praised Atlak on many occasions at the amount
he could accomplish in one day, even in comparison to such experienced
workers as Mellor himself.
Mellor had hoped the long day would slow the relentless questions
from his curious spawn, but such was not the case. Atlak paused only long
enough to voice his frustration with the rippling ground swells experienced
while taming the Pikatan. Atlak turned his attention back to Mellor and
continued probing, "...but if Tallic had such obvious talent and empathy
with the beasts why did the Tresed relinquish him to apprentice status for
so long? Is that why he left? Some say you were friends. What was..."
"We are still friends." Mellor was thankful for the growing tremors
of the Pikatan. "That is enough about Tallic for today my progeny; the
taming exercises have begun."
Upset that his questioning had ceased, Atlak tried not to cough as
the dust kicked up around him. "Of all the creatures, what is so sacred
about the Pikatan anyway?" Atlak's scowl grew deeper and darker with every
leap and hard landing of the Pikatan.
Mellor was amused. "Keep that up, Atlak, and your face will become
etched like that."
"Just once, I would like to stomp through their valley and disrupt
them while they are trying to get work done."
"I suppose you would also want to be revered as the Sacred Atlak too
then?" Mellor smiled. "Perhaps you would teach the Unarra about the patience
of taming as well?"
The reprimand was enough to keep young Atlak from continuing to
outwardly show his distaste for the Sacred Pikatan. Atlak just grumbled to
himself as clouds of dust mushroomed into the air not far from where they
worked. However, the thunderous quakes caused by the Pikatan didn't stop
this time. A telepathic warning was sent to all nearby, but Atlak was
distracted by the sudden and chaotic rearing of the Pikatan. Something was
Most of the Pikatan were rounded up before any large amounts of
damage were done. Yet, one crazed animal, its eyes rolling in its skull,
careened forward with its strange loping leaps, dodging all attempts at
capture. Atlak's insides churned, a mix of ice and painful heat as he looked
up to see a silhouette of a figure on a near-distant hill. Atlak began to
scream even before Mellor was trampled...
For what seemed like an eternity Atlak just stood there, watching
Mellor be trampled in slow motion, while screaming. As soon as he recovered
he raced towards Mellor as quickly as he could, but he was caught by two
other trainers who restrained him. "Stop.! You can't save him by rushing
to your death as well, Atlak," they consoled. At that moment, a net
appeared over and around the furious Pikatan. From a distance, Atlak could
make out an Unarra and a few Eshlar attempting to hold it down. While the
Eshlar held the Pikatan, the Unarra rushed forward and picked up Mellor,
then dashed away from the Pikatan. A few moments later, the Eshlar were
joined by a group of the trainers and they were able to get the Pikatan
Atlak immediately ran towards the Unarra who had saved Mellor, his
senses all in shock over the previous events. When he arrived Mellor was on
the ground, not moving. As he collapsed a voice said, "Do not worry, Atlak.
He is only unconscious from the blows he received. He will not die yet, I
Atlak felt relief immediately and looked up to thank the Unarra. As
he started to speak he realized the Unarra was Tallic! "Tallic! Where have
you. How did you."
"I am here now, Atlak, and a good thing I was too, it seems."
Tallic moved to the side as other Unarra joined them to see how Mellor
One of the Unarra put something in Mellor's mouth and a few seconds
later, his eyes opened slightly. "Where. where am I?" he asked.
Tallic kneeled down beside him and told him what had happened. When
he was done Mellor opened his eyes a little wider and looked at Tallic.
"Thank you, Tallic, my friend. thank.you." he said as he passed out again.
"He will be fine, just needs to rest." one of the Unarra said. "It
would be best not to move him more than is needed so we will create a small
hut around this area until he gets better."
After the Unarra moved away to get supplies, Atlak, Mellor and
Tallic were alone. Atlak and Tallic were quiet for a long moment, and then
the questions began to pour out from Atlak. Tallic laughed, "One at a time,
my friend. one at a time. I have been in the Eshlar's lands for most of the
time since I left. I have been exploring the world. I had decided to pay
Mellor and you a visit and brought with me a few Eshlar who wished to see
"You have been with the Eshlar? What are they like?" Atlak had
only heard about the Eshlar and had never seen one until a few moments ago.
He had heard stories, of course, but he hadn't expected to see one for a
"They are quite interesting. As you have heard, they specialize in
building. They can make amazing tools with their hands and are quite
As Atlak and Tallic talked, the Eshlar helped the Unarra set up the
tent that would be Mellor's home for some time. "They certainly are quick,
Tallic," as Atlak watched the Eshlar put up the hut.
"Yes. now tell me about yourself, Atlak. I have not been here for a
long while, what is new?"
"Nothing much I am afraid. The Pikatan still disturb sleep, work
and play, and I still have to endure it as if I was a Beatle Bug."
Tallic laughed and then glanced over at the Eshlar who were adding a
second level to the hut. Atlak watched them in wonder. "At this rate that
'hut' will be more magnificent than our house back in the village," Atlak
said in amazement.
Together Tallic and Atlak moved Mellor into the completed hut a
short time later. "I hope you plan to stay a while, Tallic. My spawn
jhether will certainly want to talk with you."
"I will stay for a few aubs, then I must go for a while to the
capital city. On my way back, however, I will stop here to visit for a
A few aubs later, Tallic announced that he was headed on to the capital.
Atlak and Mellor tried to persuade him otherwise, but Tallic said he must
go. However, he would be back. Atlak and Mellor consented and gave their
thanks once again, and Tallic headed on.
As soon as Tallic disappeared over the horizon, Atlak looked back at
Mellor and started asking him a whole, new string of questions about Tallic.